A criminal investigation has been launched into blackmail allegations against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens less than 24 hours after a KMOV investigative report alleged Greitens blackmailed a St. Louis woman with whom he was having an affair.
The Washington Examiner reported tonight that during a conference call with campaign contributors Greitens vowed that he is not leaving office. Greitens denied the allegations against him and said the affair occurred before he became governor.
Greitens’ own party did not leap to his defense with Senate Republican leaders issuing a joint statement saying they found the allegations “shocking” and saying they want Greitens to be “honest and forthright.”
Another senator, Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, called for Attorney General Josh Hawley, also a Republican, to investigate. Hawley, who is running for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill, declined, saying he had no jurisdiction.
Shortly after Hawley said he would not become involved, St. Louis City Prosecutor Kim Gardner announced she would launch a criminal investigation into the blackmail allegation.
According to the KMOV report, Greitens and his hairdresser entered into an affair in 2015 with their first sexual encounter taking place in Greitens’ home while his wife and children were away.
The woman, whose name has not been revealed, confessed the affair to her husband (they have since divorced), who secretly recorded it. Portions of the recording were played on KMOV.
The woman said that after she was naked during her first sexual encounter with Greitens, he taped and blindfolded her, then took a photo, telling the woman her picture would be everywhere if she ever told anyone about the affair.
The blackmail allegation may not be the only potential crime to be investigated.
Talking Points Memo featured another allegation against Greitens, coming from the lawyer for the woman’s ex-husband, who said she told him Greitens slapped her when he learned she had told her husband about the affair.
Greitens’ attorney, James F. Bennett, referred to the allegations as lies in a statement released Wednesday night and in a further statement issued today said the story was about a “three-year-old private matter” and that it was being pushed to media outlets by a former Missouri Democratic Party Chairman. Though Bennett did not name the chairman, Talking Points Memo revealed it was Roy Temple.
Eric and Sheena Greitens released a joint statement Wednesday night that acknowledged the affair, but made no mention of the blackmail allegations.
In a brief passage at the end of the joint statement, Sheena Greitens asked the media and gossips to leave her and her children alone.
The allegations have damaged the reputation, and for the time being, dimmed the political star of Greitens, who at 43 is the second youngest governor in the United States. He has never made a secret that he considers the Missouri governor’s mansion as just a stop and not a final destination.
Eight years ago, Greitens registered the web domain ericgreitensforpresident.com, according to ABC News.